HIV Testing Beats COVID-19 in Rwanda

In Global Featured, Rwanda by Julie Pascault

Condom kiosk patrons seeking free HIV self-test kits and condoms.

COVID-19 is not stopping HIV testing in Rwanda! AHF Rwanda, in collaboration with the government, has initiated an innovative strategy to distribute free oral HIV self-testing kits via existing AHF-operated condom kiosks. The efforts are in response to COVID-19 prevention measures in the country that included the restriction of community-based activities such as targeted HIV testing programs.

The self-test is not conclusive until approved by a healthcare professional. After a positive result, the individual tested can contact their nearest medical center or doctor of their choice to seek counseling and treatment services.

Female sex workers access condoms and HIV self-tests at a community kiosk.

“This novel strategy has been able to reach more men for HIV testing, since males have been lagging behind in accessing HIV testing services,” said Dr. Brenda Asiimwe-Kateera, AHF Rwanda Country Program Manager. “So far, 20,000 HIV self-tests have been distributed throughout four districts in Rwanda—with over 67% of recipients being male.”

The condom kiosks were the best choice for the self-tests as they operate daily, 24/7 and have been distributing over 120,000 condoms per month to mainly key populations at hotspots throughout the community.

“We are very happy to have these self-test kits in the condom kiosks,” said Gisa, a female sex worker in an area at high risk for HIV transmission. “We appreciate the Ministry of Health and AHF—this kiosk gives us condoms for free and we ask that this service be extended to all areas.”

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